What Writing About Depression Did For Me

Sister from another mister
www.christinaestebanphotography.com
He didn’t freak out!

A few weeks ago, I published a blog I’d written about my fight against anxiety and depression. I’d actually written the post a couple of months before it went online, around the time of Robin William’s tragic death. It hung around in the back end of WordPress for a while until I found the nerve to put it out there for the world, or at least the West Island, to see.

I don’t hide behind any pretence in my blogs.

I write honestly about things that inspire and affect me, things that make me happy and, sometimes, very sad. I’ve written about the impact of losing my father to cancer and my struggles with body image. I haven’t been shy to express how I feel in a public forum.

But somehow coming clean about my fight with anxiety and depression felt different. Scary. I knew I’d feel exposed. I was afraid that people would look at me differently. I was concerned that my professional reputation would be compromised. And of course, I was worried about the impact on my family.  My husband, Lee, is a great support, but he’s incredibly private. I didn’t know how happy he’d be about me exposing a very personal, family issue.

So I did what any loving, considerate wife would do. I wrote it and published it, and then sent him the link.

Sister from another mister
Sister from another mister

I was a nervous wreck the morning my blog went live. I went to an early yoga class, shut off my phone and did my best to breathe. I was shocked when an hour later, I logged into the site to find that 1000 people had already read my post. I had dozens of private Facebook messages and emails from friends and acquaintances thanking me for finding the courage to write about something so personal that affects so many people.

I was so focused on how my blog could play a little part in helping others, I failed to anticipate how much it would do for me too.

I am endlessly grateful for the supportive and encouraging comments, emails, phone calls and hugs from people who told me my message inspired them to get some much needed help. I am thankful to the reader who sent me the link to this amazing blog, written by Jonathan Levitt, which made me feel validated and a little less exposed. I am indebted to my Auntie Rhoda who made a stack of photocopies of my blog and passed it out to anyone she could get her hands on.  I am incredibly appreciative of the friends and family who deemed my story worth sharing and I will forever count my lucky stars for having a best friend, my sister from another mister, who wears her therapist hat, holds my hand, and/or kicks my ass as needed. Finally, I am grateful to Lee, who told me my blog was great and didn’t freak out in the slightest.

Be kind, alwaysThere is still, sadly, a huge stigma attached to mental illness – a stereotypical perception that those who suffer are unbalanced, unhinged and incapable. Too many suffer silently, afraid of the personal and professional impact of coming clean and finding support. Through my story, I hoped to remove a tiny bit of that stigma, to show that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, but a show of strength.  Everyone deserves to lead a happy, productive and fulfilling life. Some of us just need a little help getting there. There is no shame in that.

And one last word. After my blog went live, a comment I got over and over again went something along the lines of, “It’s so hard to believe! You look like you have it all together.”

First of all,  I’m not sure if there’s anyone who really has it entirely together, regardless of their mental health.

Also, appearances can be deceiving.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. A little kindness can go a long way.

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18 Comments

  • Liz, this post and your original blog have made me admire you even more than I already do, for your intelligence and bravery. It really takes a lot of maturity and empathy, for someone to talk openly about challenges that they have faced, in the hope that it will help others.Bravo to you- so many people are going to benefit from your honesty…you are really a role model.
    With much love, Roz

  • Liz,
    As always, you have written an eloquent blog about a very delicate subject! Hats off for being so honest and real. It takes an extremely strong woman to express herself! As mentioned before, you are indeed a great role model. I’m sure your children value your honesty.
    Best Wishes, Sherri

  • Liz.. words cannot describe how very special you are. Being one of my oldest friends and knowing you for decades (ugh to the S in decades meaning OLD lol) I am in the front row cheering you on. Not only are you beautiful on the outside, but your inside shines. Battling depression and anxiety has been one of my silent battles as well and I know its a tough battle. Cheers sistah for being vulnerable and showing who you are and not being afraid to share your story. Just remember how very special you are. We all have our silent battles that challenge us every day. I learn about different facets of ME Every. Single. Day. Thank you for this blog and for helping us deal with these challenges and most of all for making us feel that we are not alone.
    Love you
    Em

  • Liz,
    I am touched and grateful to you for sharing your story.
    Thank you for your eloquent words and trust in yourself. It takes a strong and wise person to share such a personal journey. Your strength will help many.
    Nancy

  • Nice follow up. A few days before Chanukah too! This is a very appropriate message to be sharing as we all try to shine a little more light and in doing so, dispel a little more darkness. Keep Shining

  • Liz, I am so so proud of you! You have absolutely helped many people I know who have told me your blog changed their lives and also those of their children! I don,t think you are fully aware of the impact you made on so many lives’! You are amazing ,wonderful, brave, caring and so outstandingly perfect in creating a open ,understanding,and helpful reality to those who suffer In silence and shame!,, I adore you and I am so proud to say you are my niece,the daughter of my beloved brother who would burst with pride of what you do and who you are!……president of your fan club!,,, Rhoda

    • Auntie Rhoda – thank you for this. I feel like my dad knows all about what’s going on and that he’s super proud :). Thank you for your amazing and constant support. It means the world to me.